We are now at the end of the alphabet for the WiseWork ‘A to Z’ and we chose ‘Zeal’ as the final word. The dictionary definition of ‘zeal’ is ‘great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective’. This is exactly what successful organisations get from their people. They have a productive workforce that applies its energy for the good of the enterprise. But where do they get it from?

It comes from the organisational culture, something that is often ignored by managers as outside their control. In reality the culture experienced by any member of staff is a direct reflection of the way they have been treated by their boss. Either they have ben treated as adults who are capable of making decisions, or they have been treated like children and told what to do.

Many traditional cultures are like traffic lights. When they are red, people stop. Someone else in authority has made a decision that it’s not safe to go, even though the driver can see there’s nothing coming across the junction. Cultures that trust and empower employees are more like roundabouts. The driver knows there is a set of rules and follows them, but this time makes their own decision when to go.

We live in an age where people expect to make decisions for themselves. They make major decisions like where to live, what car to buy and where to go on holiday. On a daily basis they make decisions on what to eat and what to watch on television. The days of having to watch programmes that have been put on by someone else are over. With Netflix and all the other on-demand services, people are used to choosing for themselves. So when they get to work they expect to get some choice in how, when and where they get the job done.

Are you managing by ’roundabout’ and giving people choice or are you running a ‘traffic light’ culture where you know best?